Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii
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History

History

The seeds of thought and planning which had since developed into the solid concrete of Phase I and the working committees of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i were sown over two generations ago. Minds and hearts of Issei and Nisei (first and second generations) forebearers set themselves to the tasks of survival, later to national heroism, and later still to the responsibility of restoring the concept of cultural pride in themselves and their community. Emotions generated by the Kanyaku Imin (125 Years of Japanese In Hawai‘i) celebration in February of 1985 spurred the devotion of major Japanese groups in the community to initially conceptualize the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai’i.

In 1986, The Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce (HJCC) initiated the Japan-Hawaii Cultural Center project, “The Dream,” for the purpose of bringing together related organizations in Hawai‘i to work in a common effort to preserve the legacy and history of the pioneers who came to Hawaii from Japan, and whose sacrifices and contributions made it possible for the younger generations to become integral members of American society. It was planned to be a legacy where future members of our community could look back and be fully conscious of their roots. The Center would also foster relations by promoting harmony and mutual understanding between Japan, Hawai‘i, and the United States.

The Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce was willing to accept the enormous responsibility of immortalizing and cultivating the legacy of the Japanese in Hawai‘i by making a commitment to plant and nourish the seedling. Many community organizations supported the creation of a Japanese cultural center, as indicated by a survey to assess the need and expectations for a center.

Courses of action plans were implemented to create Ad Hoc Committees composed of the various Japan related organizations, and to organize a fund-raising organization to raise funds from the community within the State of Hawai‘i as well as in Japan. Committees set in motion to carefully plan, develop, and research in establishing the Cultural Center. The inception of some committees were: Steering, Planning, Public Relations, Historical Research Program, Program, Membership and Property Management. A schedule of “Milestone” tasks for these committees were implemented to prepare for the tremendous work that lay ahead in the formation of the Cultural Center.

On May, 28, 1987, the birth of a new direction and a new step toward the dreams of our forefathers emerged as the Cultural Center was incorporated under the laws of the State of Hawai‘i as a non-profit corporation to develop, own, maintain, and operate a Japanese cultural center in Hawai‘i. As an independent entity, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i would play a most crucial role in perpetuating the cultural heritage we inherited from our Issei forefathers into the lifestyles and values of our children’s children.

Revamped, Revved and Ready… the Cultural Center Boards and staff moves forward with great aspirations

The Board of Directors consists of 18 community leaders from O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i and Hawai‘i counties who lead the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i by establishing policies and strategic direction. Each Director either chairs and /or is a member of the Executive Committee, Governance Committee, Membership Development Committee, Fundraising Committee, Facilities & Operations Committee, and Budget & Finance Committee. The Board members are elected by the membership as a whole.

The Board of Governors currently has 25 members who advise and make recommendations to the Board of Directors, and oversee the implementation of programs and activities of the Cultural Center. The Board of Governors also assist and maintain the fiscal well-being of the Center by supporting its fundraising activities. The Board of Governors are appointed by the Board of Directors.

The staff is led by the President & Executive Director who administers the day-to-day operations of the Cultural Center.

The Board of Directors, Board of Governors and the staff, and volunteers work in unison to carry out the many exciting plans at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. When put together these individuals, though all unique in their background, create a dynamic, capable and passionate group who are dedicated to the Cultural Center’s mission of sharing the history, heritage and culture of the evolving Japanese American experience in Hawai‘i.